Mario went all 3D for a while, appearing in classics like Super Mario Galaxy and, of course, Super Mario 64. However, many of his modern games have gone back to their 2D roots, with side-scrolling platforming action that proves that 2D is just as relevant as 3D today.
Mario’s first appearance was in 1981's Donkey Kong. Known simply as Jumpman, he was given a moustache (due to the difficulty of depicting a mouth with the limited graphics) and his trademark hat (because the animator had difficulty drawing hair). Limitations that made the man what he is today.
Donkey Kong proved such a success that Jumpman was named Mario and given his own game on the NES. The legend goes that the name Mario was chosen due to Mario Sengale, the landlord of Nintendo America's offices, who barged in on a meeting to demand an overdue rent payment. Presumably he did so by shouting ‘It’s-a me’, but we can’t say for sure.
Then came Super Mario Bros: a platform game that has influenced gameplay and design ever since. This game introduced us to the characters and storylines that are now synonymous with Mario, such as saving Princess Peach, jumping on turtle’s heads, dropping Bowser in lava, and banging Mario’s head on bricks in the hope of payment.
Nintendo then changed gaming forever again, releasing the Game Boy in 1989. And, of course, it was launched with a monster Mario release, Super Mario Land (as well as Tetris). Though it was little more than an adaptation of Super Mario Bros, in the green glow of the Game Boy's portable world it soon became just as iconic.
Launched with the SNES, Super Mario World was another smash hit in a lucrative end to the decade for Nintendo. New additions included Princess Peach, Yoshi, and Mario's new spinning jump and flying cape.
Like any successful boy band, Mario's co-stars were now so big they could 'go solo'. Over the years we've seen games based on Wario, Yoshi, Donkey Kong, Luigi and Princess Peach, alongside their continued appearances in the Mario titles.
Over 200 Mario games in a quarter of a century shows Nintendo's ability to keep coming up with new ideas for the franchise. Few have bettered Mario Kart, one of the ultimate multiplayer games. Originally on the SNES, it’s been on ever Nintendo console since, with the recent Wii U version being one of the best.
As well as kart racing, Mario has always been a sport lover, and down the years has tried most of them. Tennis, golf, pinball, baseball, football, basketball and Olympic tie-in games have all been released. He must be in great shape!
Yes, it was the first major motion picture to be based on a video game. Yes, they managed to get Bob Hoskins as Mario and John Leguizamo as Luigi. They even had Dennis Hopper as King Koopa. But there's no escaping the fact that it was bad. Really bad.
Then came the N64 and the birth of modern Mario. For the first time, he burst into a 3D world where there seemed to be no limits. The pioneering control method and the 360 degrees camera is now the standard for most games.
The turn of the millennium brought us a Mario beat 'em up in the form of Super Smash Bros. Here you could take on other classic Nintendo characters such as Link (Zelda), Samus (Metroid Prime) and Pikachu (Pokémon). More characters and arm-waving mayhem were added with a Wii U sequel.
It’s Mario. IN SPACE! Arriving with a similar furore to Super Mario 64, Super Mario Galaxy introduced a whole new generation to Mario via the Wii. It's still the best use of the nunchuk controllers on the console. Just make sure you strap it to your wrist. We don’t want any broken TVs now…
The Wii version of Mario Kart was notable for the wheel-shaped controller that came in the bundle. It also added a bunch of new gameplay mechanics to the series that revitalised a game that had never really lost its edge. Plus it had online play, so you could race your friends from around the world.
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